During the aging process, many patients experience pain due to the narrowing of the spinal canal, or stenosis. In these cases, patients experience chronic neck or back pain. A laminectomy is generally recommended as a surgical treatment for stenosis.
During the procedure, the surgeon will remove the lamina, or the thin layer of bone surrounding the vertebrae protecting the spinal column. This is done to widen the narrowing canal and to release pressure that may have been placed on the spinal cord or nerve root. This process is done to decompress the nerves, resulting in a decrease in the patient’s overall pain and quality of life.
The layer of bone referred to as the lamina is also sometimes known as the vertebral arch. This vertebral arch is in place as a form of protection wrapped around the spine. The spinal cord resides within the spinal canal, which in patients suffering from stenosis is narrowing. The spinal cord in a healthy adult begins at the base of the brain and flows down into the lumbar spine, ending in a grouping of nerves referred to as the “cauda equina.”
Traditionally, patients needing a laminectomy would undergo an open laminectomy procedure. During an open laminectomy, the surgeon will use invasive techniques in order to reveal the spinal canal and remove the lamina. A typical open laminectomy includes:
- *The surgeon will make a 3- to 4-inch incision midline in the back. *
- In order to reach the vertebral lamina surrounding the spinal canal, the surgeon will have to cut through muscles and tissue, resulting in a lengthy recovery time.
- After exposing the area of the vertebral lamina that needs to be removed, the surgeon will remove either a part or the whole lamina.
- *The surgeon will then repair the torn muscles and ligaments by sewing them back together along with the investing fascia layer. *
- This incision is closed postoperatively with stitches or staples.
Though a traditional open laminectomy provides a slightly easier recovery than an open fusion, the procedure still requires a 2- to 6-day hospital stay as with any major surgery./ Also, due to the invasive nature of the procedure, a long recovery time is anticipated as with any procedure that cuts and tears through vital muscles and ligaments.
Minimally invasive options
Choosing to undergo traditional open neck or back surgery is never an easy decision, specifically relating to the lower success rates and longer recovery times. Laser Spine Institute offers patients suffering from stenosis an alternative minimally invasive procedure known as a laminotomy. During the laminotomy, the surgeon will use a series of tubes to dilate the muscle and reach the lamina, significantly lowering the risk and increasing effectiveness. The surgeon will create a working window within the lamina in order to remove any bone or disc material pressing again the spinal canal.
If you are suffering from neck or back pain and seeking a second opinion regarding your options, contact Laser Spine Institute to speak with a Spine Care Consultant about your options today.